Video footage of the emergency landing showed the plane safely touching down on the airport’s runway just before 1 p.m. ET.
A spokesperson from Air Canada told Global News in a statement that Flight AC837 was returning from Madrid to Toronto with 128 passengers on board when it experienced an engine issue shortly after leaving the ground.
They said one of the aircraft’s 10 tires ruptured on takeoff, prompting an emergency landing.
“The aircraft opted to return to Madrid and is currently circling to use up fuel and lighten the aircraft for landing,” the statement read.
“The aircraft, a Boeing 767-300, is designed to operate on one engine, and our pilots are fully trained for this eventuality. Nonetheless, an emergency was declared in order to obtain landing priority.”
Spanish pilots union SEPLA said on Twitter that part of the plane’s landing gear had fallen off and gone into one of the engines.
Aaron Cooper was on travelling back home to Edmonton after spending a week in Spain to watch his fiancee’s PhD dissertation. He said he felt the initial bang following take-off.
“At takeoff, I heard a huge bang right under my seat … I could see there were some flames coming from the engine and smoke,” Cooper said.
“At that point, I was thinking, ‘OK, what’s happening here? We were flying very low.’”
Cooper said while the landing appeared to go smoothly, it was at that time he began to get concerned.
“When we landed, I heard the sound again that we heard when we took off. It was rattling and everything and very noisy,” he said.
“The landing was very stressful … The pilot did great. The crew was great. It was a successful landing.”
Guido Fioravantti, whose father was on board the plane, said he was feeling optimistic about the landing in an interview with Global News.
“Everything is under control,” he said, adding the cabin was “very calm” and was prepared for an uneventful landing.
Fioravantti, who works as a senior software engineer on geo-spatial products at Bloomberg LP, said the landing was a “standard manoeuvre.”
“No reason to panic at all,” he said.
The incident occurred just hours after a drone sighting near the takeoff area caused a brief disruption at the airport, with 26 flights diverted away from Barajas.
The Canadian airliner called air traffic control 30 minutes after takeoff and requested a slot for an emergency landing, an AENA spokeswoman said.
She was unable to provide further details or say whether the incident was in any way related to the previous shutdown.
Emergency services in Madrid said on Twitter they were co-ordinating with the airport and that troops were deployed in the surrounding area as a precaution.
— With files from Reuters and Erica Vella